Bad Hangover Leads To Blood Cancer Diagnosis
- Ryan Lloyd, 26, thought an extra bad hangover was his aversion to alcohol, but as symptoms persisted he came to find out he had stage four Hodgkins lymphoma.
- Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that affects infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes. There are more than 40 different types of lymphoma.
- Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma —in addition to lumps on the neck or lymph nodes—may include swelling around the armpits or groin, persistent fatigue, fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and severe itching.
“I instantly thought the worst,” Lloyd, now 26, told The Sun. “But I was happy in a way because I finally knew why I felt so ill – there was actually a reason.”Read More
Lloyd’s Blood Cancer Diagnosis
Lloyd tells The Sun at first he didn’t think anything of the hangover, but found it curious given he only had 3 pints at a festival in late 2018. Just two months later, after suffering night sweats and weight loss, he thought it was time to see a doctor.
“Blood tests revealed his white blood cell count was high and, after he started suffering “excruciating” back pain, a PET scan and biopsies revealed the extent of his condition,” said The Sun.
Lloyd was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin lymphoma and was told it unfortunately had spread to his bone marrow, hips, spine, neck and spleen.
“My girlfriend [now fiancé] Jess accepted it really quickly too. We both had suspicions that it was going to be cancer, but we didn’t let on to each other. In a way that prepared us,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd received chemotherapy treatment for six months and in January 2020, he was given the all clear. However, a check up in June and November 2021 “found irregularities in his red blood cell count” and his cancer had returned. This time in his spleen and neck. The Sun reports he was scheduled for more chemotherapy in February 2021 and a stem cell transplant in June of that year.
As of July 2021, Loyd was deemed cancer free.
What Is Hodgkin Lymphoma?
It is important to understand that there are more than 40 different types of lymphoma cancer. Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that affects infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes.
“Lymphoma is split up into a number of different categories,” Dr. Elise Chong, a medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, tells SurvivorNet. “The first distinguishing breakpoint, if you will, is non-Hodgkin lymphoma versus Hodgkin lymphoma,” she adds, “and those sound like two different categories. But non-Hodgkin lymphoma comprises the majority of lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma is a single specific type of lymphoma.”
Hodgkin lymphoma has distinctive, giant cells called Reed-Sternberg cells. The presence of these cells, which can be seen under a microscope, will help your doctor determine which of the two lymphoma types you have.
There are a few other important differences between non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma to note. For one thing, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is much more common. And you’re more likely to be diagnosed with it after age 55. People usually develop Hodgkin lymphoma at a younger age, like Immy.
It should be noted that another difference between these two types of lymphoma is that non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to spread in a random fashion and be found in different groups of lymph nodes in the body, while Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to grow in a uniform way from one group of lymph nodes directly to another.
These two different types of lymphoma behave, spread and respond to treatment differently, so it’s important for you to know which type you have.
Risk Factors for Hodgkin Lymphoma
There are a few factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing Hodgkin lymphoma, including:
- Age (the disease is most common in people in their 20s and 30s or after age 55)
- Family history (those who had a close family member with the disease may have a higher risk)
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection (EBV is the virus that causes mononucleosis)
- HIV (people with HIV may have a higher risk for the disease)
- Weakened immune system
There has also been some speculation that exposure to weed-killers, like Roundup, can cause lymphoma — either Hodgkin lymphoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma — to develop. However, this has not been conclusively proven.
“There hasn’t been a study that has conclusively proved a causal link between Roundup and lymphoma, although it does look like Roundup probably increases lymphoma risk,” says Dr. Catherine Diefenbach, a hematologist/oncologist at NYU Langone Health. “Instead, we need to understand why there’s a higher number of lymphoma cases among people who use Roundup.”
Studies show an association between exposure to certain weed killers and non-Hodgkin lymphoma — however, association does not mean cause.
Signs and Symptoms of Hodgkin Lymphoma
A Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis can emerge from one or more of the following symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Severe itching
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes in neck, armpits, or groin
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent fatigue
- Increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol or pain in your lymph nodes after drinking alcohol
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff